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SUP: Behind the brand with David Walker (Paddlelogger.com)

Words: David Walker

Pics: David Walker, Joe Wollaston

From paddling the calm azure summer waters of the Cornish coastline for little more than the enjoyment to now, running a mobile application business which is on the cusp of major change. A lot can alter in a few years.

Paddle Logger was an app I thought would provide me a little passive income to subsidize my degree and that would be it. I would design it myself, learn how to code and develop it one summer and continue the day to day running as a hobby just to make sure the revenue {beer money} kept coming in.

David Walker Paddle Logger

It was great, all planned out and away I went. The initial design work looked good, the market research was going well and people were a lot more interested than I thought they would be. I just wanted a functional, beautifully designed tool that I could use and didn’t cost a couple of hundred pounds like many of the GPS watches. Cut to a few months later and I am sitting in front of a computer designing features I hadn’t even thought of, suggested by the wonderful community of users.

I have jumped ahead somewhat to prove a point there but Paddle Logger very quickly became something more than I had intended it to be. From then on my paddling life was going to be very different.

David Walker Paddle Logger SUP

I have a BSc degree in Geography (which I was still studying for while Paddle Logger was being conceived). I have never had a design background, never had any marketing experience nor really had much real project management experience. The only thing I had to outsource was the coding. The same guy has been there from the beginning, providing advice and has become a good friend. Still, it feels crazy to think how far Paddle Logger has come through bootstrapping and sheer determination.

Paddle Logger appPaddle Logger app #2Paddle Logger app #3

Bootstrapping is a term that I know means creating a business with little or no start up capital and limited external resources. By the time Paddle Logger launched I had already told myself that whatever happens the skills that I had learnt are more valuable than any loss or profit – it took the edge off, somewhat. The experiences and ‘wisdom’ that come from making mistakes, being naïve and [for want of a better term] bungling through, have got me here.

We learn by making mistakes, it is a fundamental rule. After a few screw ups there is an acceptance that mistakes can be a good thing – so long as you learn.

At the beginning Paddle Logger was launched as a very simple tracker – it did not do anywhere near the kind of things that it can do now. The model that I chose to use was a gamble, get the product out there to the people and see what they say – every single email, comment, criticism, complaint and compliment was taken into consideration. With this simple stable platform, I had the foundations to add things here and there. At the beginning I had a list of updates I wanted to implement and these lists have evolved depending on the feedback from the user. That is the beauty of being a small enterprise – you can speak to everyone and very easily change tack where needed.  Thank you to all those who get in touch to talk about the functions you need, you have helped me evolve my plans to create a product that you the paddler wants. Long may it continue.

paddle-logger-app

As a thank you, early adopters will get upgraded to v2.0 for free, it may only be a small gesture but one I hope is appreciated. I personally understand the patience needed to endure mistakes and development that cropped up every now and again during the last 18 months of development.

After running with the above model for just over a year it became noticeable that the design work was looking very tired, app updates were getting further apart, with only minor iterations. There has been a plateau of evolution as Paddle Logger has become more and more refined. To me this marked the end of the long, slow development phase. Time to launch proper, starting with a head to toe brand re-design and re-invigoration for the beginning of August, just as I finish my MbyRes. Working this time closely with a friend and professional graphic designer we have created an app that stays true to Paddler Logger’s tenets of design.

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About SUPMagUK (501 Articles)
Stand Up Paddle Boarding Mag UK is the home of UK SUP. Paddle surfing, downwind SUP, all round SUP, SUP racing and more - it's all here!

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